It is widely understood, though some may not want to recognise it, that the accepted sectarianism that surrounds it is one of the very foundations of football and the key reasons for its popularity.
The capacity to be intentionally partial with all is attractive and is accepted socially because it’s just football.
As a consequence, players who switch clubs end up being chastised by those who loved them before, especially when there is more cash engaged. This then becomes their professionalism’s critique.
This is the case of Neymar. The truth is that he’s the strangest case in the memory of Spanish football. It seems as though both Barcelona and Real Madrid are competing for him, but it ‘seems’ as though they don’t really want that to be noticed; they want it to come across as though, in some way, they’ve managed to complete an inevitable signing unintentionally.
In the same way, Paris Saint-Germain appear happy enough to let him leave, despite him being their biggest star who only arrived relatively recently. They now seem resigned to accepting an offer that isn’t the best, but more the least bad, knowing that they’ll rule France anyway.
PSG’s attitude isn’t surprising, though perhaps Madrid and Barcelona’s is, because what Neymar has shown so far doesn’t necessarily encourage elite clubs to compromise their prestige to sign him.
You could even argue that Neymar isn’t a footballer. He’s a separate entity: a club, with his own board, who knows what he is and looks after his own interests, even if they’re not shared by the club he plays at. Neymar FC, if you like.
But Machiavelli said that the end justifies the means, and the Brazilian is a franchise player who can deliver success. At Barcelona, they’re planning for Lionel Messi’s demise due to his age, and Madrid desperately need to strengthen in a time of crisis.
Lastly, the pre-season is about to end. Madrid and Barcelona are about to start their seasons, but Neymar hasn’t even had a pre-season. He trained alone and did a bit with the PSG squad, but he has work to do.
Both suitor clubs know that they want a one-man army. They know that Neymar FC can become a rival.
Anyway, maybe the case shows again that Madrid and Barcelona have that same basic identity; they share an implicit brotherhood, both feeling the same about Neymar’s possible arrival.
In this case, what attracts the attention are the circumstances, not the facts.